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President-elect Donald Trump pauses pose for photographs as he greets Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Trump has disbanded his controversial voter fraud commission over legal complications


President Trump announced Wednesday night that he had signed an executive order disbanding his controversial voter fraud commission citing ongoing legal battles with states.

"Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry," Trump said in a statement Wednesday. "Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action.”

The decision comes just a week after Kris Kobach, the panel's vice chairman and the secretary of state of Kansas, had said the panel would be meeting later next month.

Read More: Whether or not voter fraud exists, this new panel will investigate

On Thursday morning, Trump said the decision was made after "mostly Democrat States" refused to hand over election data to the commission. He also called for voter I.D. laws, requiring all voters to show proof of identification at the polls.

Trump formed the commission last May and charged it with collecting data from states to determine whether or not evidence of large-scale voter fraud existed. The commission was expected to release a report in March with its findings and recommendations. However, according to multiple media reports the commission had struggled to obtain any hard evidence of voter fraud and was mired with numerous legal threats and states' refusal to hand over data. It's last known meeting was Sept. 12.

Civil rights groups and lawmakers criticized the commission, which was led by Vice President Mike Pence, from the very beginning arguing there is no significant evidence to to support claims that voter fraud has had any serious impact on election results. Democrats claimed the commission was merely a ruse intended to suppress votes.

"“This commission was a sham from the start and everyone recognized it. We have real problems when it comes to elections: low voter turnout, unnecessary barriers to participation, outdated and insecure machines, and possible foreign interference," Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project said in a statement.

"But rather than address these real threats to election integrity, the commission engaged in a wild-goose chase for voter fraud, demonizing the very American voters whom we should all be helping to participate — with the not-so-secret goal of making voting harder with unnecessary barriers," Ho said.

Trump has claimed that he lost the popular vote in the 2016 election because of voter fraud.

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